|Birds of Prey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Birds are sometimes classified by the type of food they eat. For example, birds that are carnivorous in nature are known as birds of prey or raptors. Differences also exist among these types of birds with regard to the animals they feed upon, however, one commonality is, the bigger the bird is the bigger the prey it feeds upon. The size of animals that these birds feed upon is reflected in the bird's physical appearance. Those which feed on larger animals tend to have a bigger and strong beak and nails for tearing their prey.
Some birds feed on insects. These spend most of their time on the ground pecking around for larger insects such as praying mantises and grasshoppers. American kestrels, merlins, owl and Mississippi kites are examples of such birds. There are also some raptors that feed on aquatic animals like fish. These typically live near the coastlines. Bald eagles are an example of such birds of prey. Many of these birds even take the fish from other animals that also eat fish. Thieves!
There are some types of birds which feed on small mammals. Such animals as mice, shrews, gophers and voles constitute food to these birds of prey. Hawks of different types, such as red-tailed hawks, Cooper's hawks and others are among the types of birds of prey that feed on such mammals. Other raptors that do feed on such animals include barn owls, merlins, and northern harriers to mention but a few. These birds catch their prey by skillfully hunting them from above. They either perch and watch out for their prey to appear or they hover in their air in search of their prey.
Surprisingly, there are some types of birds of prey that actually feed on smaller birds instead of on other animals. They can pursue their prey while they are flying, or alternatively, they can catch them on the ground. There are other types of birds of prey that feed on large birds like doves, ducks, pigeons, chickens and others. Such birds of preys include peregrine falcon, goshawk and others. Some other birds of prey feed on animals as large as rabbit, squirrels and others. There are others that feed on carrion, like vultures, who prefer to not take chances on live prey.